LONDON - Komainu, the digital asset custodian backed by Japanese investment bank Nomura Holdings Inc, has raised $25 million in a funding round led by veteran hedge fund manager Alan Howard, the company said on Tuesday. Other investors in the round included Galaxy Digital, NOIA Capital and Nomura Research Institute, which will act as strategic partners to the custodian, Komainu said. Howard is the co-founder of investment firms Brevan Howard, and most recently blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused Elwood Asset Management. Komainu, which safeguards bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies on behalf of financial institutions was launched last June as a joint venture between Nomura, digital asset security firm Ledger, and digital asset investment house CoinShares. It has more than $3 billion in assets under custody and will use the funding to grow its team, develop new technology and expand geographically, Komainu President Henson Orser said in an interview. The funding round comes amid a rally in bitcoin's price, as more institutional investors warm to the virtual currency which many see as a hedge against inflation. Having first established Komainu in 2018, Nomura was one of the earliest large financial institutions looking to offer services in the nascent asset class. Since then more mainstream firms have entered or announced cryptocurrency moves including Fidelity and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Goldman Sachs Group Inc will start trading bitcoin derivatives on behalf of clients this month, Reuters reported last week. Jezri Mohideen, wholesale chief digital officer at Nomura, said in an interview that the bank decided to start its activities in the sector by tackling custody because the need for institutional-grade safeguarding of bitcoin was one of the largest issues holding back professional investors from the asset. "We understood all the pain points and we learned a lot," Mohideen said. "We are ready for the next phase of the institutionalization of the asset class." REUTERS
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